Clothing Care

How to Use Detergent Powder: Your Ultimate Washing Guide

Detergent dosing can be tricky – you may be using too much detergent and not even realise! Use this guide to find out how to use different types of detergents.

No one wants to admit they don’t really know how to use their washing machine, but it’s something that’s shockingly common. While many of us can get by without knowing the ‘rules’, we may not be doing what’s right for our clothes, or for our bank balance. Knowing how to wash clothes in the washing machine properly – including understanding how, when, and why to use detergent – can keep our clothes looking their best, and also save us money in the long term. Here’s your ultimate detergent guide!

Where to Put the Detergent Powder or Liquid in a Washing Machine

Powdered detergent can either be put into a detergent drawer, or directly into the washer – the choice is yours. Many people prefer to put powdered detergent straight into the drum because powder takes a little longer to work than liquid detergent as it needs to dissolve first – the powder has longer to dissolve when it comes into contact with the water earlier on (the drawer may not dispense the powder until later in the wash cycle). Make sure to follow the directions on the label of your washing powder – this way, you will get the best results.

Where to Put Liquid Detergent in a Washing Machine

This depends upon the liquid detergent you’re using. If you use a product like Surf excel liquid detergent, you should put the detergent directly into your top loading machine. If you’re working with stains, remember to Dip, Dab, Drop!

How Much Detergent Should I Use?

If you have to ask how much liquid detergent to use in a washing machine, then chances are you’re using way too much. Don’t be too hard on yourself – it’s very easy to do, and most of us have this deeply embedded idea that using more detergent will produce better results. It doesn’t. In fact, using too much detergent is not only a waste of money, but it can leave your clothes feeling rather unpleasant. Using too much detergent means that the soap – whether liquid or powder – cannot dissolve or be rinsed properly in the amount of water used for a standard wash cycle.

Detergent manufacturers have conducted many tests to find the optimal amount of detergent to use in each wash, and this information should be on the back of all detergent packaging. Generally speaking, this will be between two and four tablespoons per wash, depending on how dirty your clothes are, and whether you’ve got hard or soft water in your home. You’ll need to use more if you’ve got hard water as soaps do not foam as well when they’re contending with the natural minerals found in hard water. You can also read more about location and dosing suggestions here.

What Type of Detergent is Best?

Using a washing machine successfully is all about a combination of factors – you need to understand the right settings and cycles for your clothing, you need to wash similar garments together, and, perhaps most importantly, you need to use the right detergent for your needs. Here’s a brief rundown of the different detergents you might see at your local supermarket – we particularly like Surf excel’s range of laundry products:

Liquid Detergent

Liquid detergent is often considered to be a good all-rounder. Being liquid, it dissolves well in most conditions, and it’s relatively easy to measure the right amount. It is well worth keeping a liquid detergent in your cupboard at all times, particularly as it’s suitable for cold and quick washes too.

Powdered Detergent

Powdered detergent, or washing powder, is a more traditional form of detergent, and it’s therefore often the more cost effective option – certainly a little more budget-friendly than liquid detergent. The issue with detergent powder is that it struggles to dissolve in cooler temperatures, so may not be the best option if you’re washing delicate fabrics at 30 degrees.

Top Loading Detergent

Top loading detergent is, of course, designed for top loading washing machines. You may also see it called ‘high efficiency’ detergent and is great at getting really deep within the fibres of your clothing for a thorough clean.

Front Loading Detergent

Front loading detergent is specifically designed to minimise soapsuds. Excess suds can become caught in the door mechanism, making them difficult to remove during the rinse cycle. This type of detergent cleans just as well as hand washing, despite not foaming like other detergents.

Easy Wash and Quickwash Stain Removal Detergent

Stain removal detergent offers built-in stain removal properties, which essentially does the same job as a separate pre-treatment, removing the need to treat stubborn stains prior to washing clothes. Some may contain a bleaching agent, whereas others use more natural products, such as citrus oils.

We recommend


Baffled by all the different laundry detergents that are available? We recommend Surf excel’s range of detergents for effective results.